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The Jewish Community of New Caledonia

New Caledonia


A special collectivity of France comprising dozens of islands in the Melanesian region of southwest Pacific Ocean.

Jewish Community

The Jewish community was formally established in 1987. The estimated Jewish population in 2018 was about 250 out of 280,000. Most members of the local community are Sephardi Jews who immigrated from France. They live in Noumea, the largest city in the territory. The only synagogue in New Caledonia is located at 4, rue du Capitaine Perraud in Noumea. As of 2017, Rabbi Menahem Sabbah of the Hassidic Chabad movement is charge of the local synagogue. Most Jews are merchants or employees of the local administration. 

Association Culturelle Israelite de Nouvelle Caledonie
BP 4173, Noumea
Phone. 687 28.68.31, Fax. 687 272 101

Synagogue de Noumea
4 bis rue du Capitaine Perraud
P 172 98800 Noumea, South Province
New Caledonia

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Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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République française

A country in Western Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 450,000 out of 65,000,000 (0.6%). France is the home of the third largest Jewish population in the world and the largest Jewish community in Europe. 

Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France - Representative Council of Jews of France
Phone: 33 1 42 17 11 11
Fax: 33 1 42 17 11 13

Consistoire Central de France – Union des Communautés Juives de France
19, rue St Georges
75009 Paris
Phone: 01 49 70 88 00
Fax: 01 42 81 03 66
e-mail :



The Jews of France

1040 | In Rashi Veritas

Brain drain is not a new phenomenon. Between the eighth and tenth centuries a mass movement began of Jewish merchants from Babylon – then the largest Jewish population center in the world – migrating to Western Europe, where international trade centers began to emerge. These Jews joined a larger and older group of fellow Jews, who had migrated back in 2nd Temple times, through the Mediterranean to Gaul, the land that we know as France.
As befits a goose laying golden eggs, the Jews received special rights and sheltered under the protection of French nobles, who shielded them from the maws of the Catholic Church. The economic prosperity allowed them to establish yeshivas and Torah centers which produced many scholars. One of these, a genius who made his living as a vintner, was born in 1040 in the province of Champagne in France, and bequeathed to posterity a comprehensive commentary on the Torah. Legend has it that the incomparable Rashi script was invented by his daughters, who were scholars themselves, but the truth is that it's the font of a Sephardi cursive script that was used in the Jewish printing presses in 16th century Italy to distinguish it from the biblical text itself. His name was Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), and his monumental work is still the authoritative commentary on Holy Scripture in the rabbinical world.

1240 | Where They Burn Books...

The crusades, which spread from Europe beginning in 1096, ended the idyll of Jewish existence in the lands of Ashkenaz in the early second millennium. Blood libels, persecutions and expulsions were the lot of the Jews for hundreds of years afterward.
One of the low points was reached in the year 1240 and is known as “The Trial of Paris”. At this trial, initiated by King Louis IX and Pope Gregory IX, the defendant was not a person, but a work of literature - The Talmud, to be precise, which according to the Catholic Church holds messages of hatred towards all gentiles and disparagement of Jesus.
One fine day an incited mob gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to watch the condemned criminal – 12,000 hand-written copies of the Talmud – burned at the stake. 600 years later Jewish-German poet Heinrich Heine would comment on this event: “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people.”

1481 | The Provenance of Provence

When speaking of the Jews of France, one cannot help but pay special attention to a singular group of Jews who lived in what is now the south of France and was called “The Sages of Provence”.
These sages were the advanced placement class of the Jewish world. They created a unique brand of thought and Bible exegesis and also engaged in philosophy and Kabbalah. The teachings of these sages was spread throughout Europe, Spain and North Africa, and their genius was a byword among Jewish intellectuals of Western Europe.
Among the main writers of this group are Hameiri, Rabbi David Kimchi (aka Rada”k), Rabbi Zarhia HaLevi (aka Raza”h), Abraham Ben David (aka Raba”d) and his son, Rabbi Isaac the Blind, and of course the great translator Judah ibn Tibbon, the man who disseminated the thought of Maimonides after translating it from Arabic into Hebrew.
The Jews of Provence as a cultural phenomenon came to an end in the year 1481, when King Louis XI of France annexed Provence to his realm.

1498 | The Odyssey of Expulsions

To the Jews of France, the late Middle Ages were an agonizing ping-pong affair of expulsions and recalls. In 1306 King Phillip IV issued an edict banning the Jews from residence in French territory. 11 years later his son, Louis X, recalled the Jews – provided they wear an identifying patch on their clothes. A mere seven years went by and the Jews were expelled again. This time it was King Charles IV, who claimed that the Jews, in their temerity, failed to pay their full amount of taxes to him.
In 1357, under Jean II and later under Charles V, the Jews returned to France, but once again suffered persecution, restriction of their freedom of occupation to the sole field of money-lending, and finally – abduction of their children.
The odyssey of expulsions ended on September 17th, 1394, when Charles VI succumbed to the pressure of the masses and issues an edict of expulsion for all Jews in his domains. To his credit, it must be noted that he gave the expelled Jews ample time to sell their property and decreed that any Christian who borrowed money from them must repay it. By 1498 there was not a Jew left anywhere in France, save for a smattering of small communities that lived in Avignon and its environs in the south of France, which was then under Papal control.

1791 | No Bread? Eat Challa

The French Revolution, which broke out in 1789, costing many their lives through the services of “Madame Guillotine”, heralded the idea of the liberal democratic state as we know it today. From a tyrannical class-based society France transformed (albeit through much bloodshed), to a democratic regime in which each person can be master of their own fate.
The first to enjoy the fruits of emancipation were the Jews of Alsace-Lorraine, an area conquered by France back in 1630. The Jews of France, then numbering some 40,000 people, were as mentioned above the first in Europe to enjoy the fruits of the revolution, but their release from the burden of being the “other” and “alien” was not easy. At first the leaders of the revolution claimed that the Jews were “a nation within a nation” and as such not eligible for treatment as equal citizens. But in 1791 the General Law Relating to the Jews was issued, granting the Jews full equality, and there was much rejoicing in the Jewish quarter of Paris.

1806 | The Twelve Question Program

It would not be off the mark to characterize the history of Europe's Jews in general and those of France in particular as a series of “almosts”. Almost equality. Almost Emancipation. Almost liberty.
As though the Law Relating to the Jews had not been passed 15 years prior, in 1806 the question of Jewish status was raised once again, this time under Napoleon, the legendary general known for his unlimited ambition.
Napoleon took a creative approach. In 1806 he gathered an assembly of leading Jews and presented them with the “12 Question Test”, designed to assess their loyalty to France. Among other things the Jews were asked how Jewish halacha views mixed marriages, whether a Jew may charge interest from a gentile, how the Jews view France and more.
The answers the Jews gave, declaring France their motherland and non-Jewish Frenchmen their brothers, did not satisfy Napoleon, and a year later he issued the “Shameful Edict”, limiting the Jews' freedoms of occupation and movement, yet forced them to enlist in the army. Shameful indeed.

1860 | All Israel Are Friends

The story of the first global Jewish organization, Alliance Israelite Universelle, established in Paris in 1860, begins with a Jewish 3 year-old from Bologna named Edgardo Levi Mortara, who one day was kidnapped from his parents and taken to the Vatican, where he was “reeducated” in Catholic institutions.
The Mortara affair created great furor throughout liberal circles in Europe and was the main impetus for the founding of “Alliance”, a Jewish cultural organization meant to protect Jewish rights, which was active mainly in education.
During this period, 12 years after the “Spring of Nations” revolution, a wave of nationalism broke out and swept over France. As though through Pavlovian conditioning, the Jews were once again blamed for all the ills that had befallen the land of good taste. 12 years later, one of the main accusations hurled at the Jews was that they had gotten rich lending money to the French government for the disastrous war against the hated enemy of Prussia.

1894 | A Legendary Story

It was a winter he would never forget, and it seems that neither shall we. He was the Paris correspondent for the Austrian newspaper Neue Freie Presse, a handsome man with a thick black beard and burning eyes. He would not forget the toxic hatred, the obvious lie; he would not forget the shouts of “Death to the Jews” and the pleas of the accused, a Jewish-French military officer named Alfred Dreyfus, reprimanding those who were his subordinates but a moment ago, in a cracked voice: “I forbid you to curse me”, to no avail of course. To this day, the ripped-off ranks of Dreyfus appear in the all-Jewish nightmares.
Many historians believe that it was the Dreyfus trial that pushed the “Visionary of the Jewish State,” Binyamin Zeev (Theodore) Herzl, to dedicate his life to establishing a state for the Jews. For if in France, the country that had committed itself more than any to the ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity, such anti-Semitism raged – what would become of the Jews huddled in the Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe?
"If you will it", the young journalist thought to himself, "it is no legend".

1914 | Bloom of Life

On July 31st, 1914, Jean Jaures, leader of the Social-Democrat camp in French politics, sat and ate dinner at the famous Cafe du Croissant in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. All around the tempest was raging. The winds of WW1 began to blow, and Jaures, who had done everything in his power to stop the war, but in vain, was bitterly disappointed. This did not last long. During the meal an assassin appeared behind him and put two bullets in his head.
The murder of Jaures made a deep impact on his pupil and friend, Leon Blum, a socialist Jewish intellectual who would make history 22 years later by becoming the first Jewish Prime Minister of France. Blum, an attorney with a well-developed social conscience, who was defined by his biographer as a “man of words”, embodied the spirit of French Jews between the world wars. He was a man of French culture through and through, and at the same time deeply aware of his Jewish identity, an avowed Zionist, and was admired by the leaders of the Hebrew population in mandatory Palestine, who often sought his advice.

1942 | Vichy-ing The Jews Away

During WW2 France showed its ugly side. The Vichy government, a puppet regime under German protection, took part – and according to German testimony, with great zeal – in the deportation of the Jews of France (mostly Jews without French citizenship, including many who had fled from Nazi-controlled areas) to the extermination camps in the east.
One of the events that will live in infamy in French history was the deportation of 12,500 of the Jews of Paris, who were led in the dark of night, in the middle of July 1942, to the Velodrome d'hiver, where many of them died due to the harsh sanitary conditions and a severe shortage of food and water.
True, proud Francophiles will say – and rightly so – that there was a French resistance movement that abhorred the treatment of the Jews. To strengthen their argument for the republic, perhaps they will also offer the story of the nun Mother Maria Skobtsova, a Righteous Among the Nations, who managed to sneak into the velodrome along with her son disguised as waste removal workers, and hid several dozen Jewish children in the trash cans she took out. But these were the exceptions that did not indicate the rule. The numbers show that some 76,000 of the Jews of France (about a quarter of the Jews in the country) were sent to the death camps, of whom only 2,500 or so survived.

2000 | From Rothschild to Levinas

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Jews of France became the largest Jewish community in Europe: Some 600,000 Jews, most of whom migrated to France in the 1950s and 1960s from North Africa, as the French colonies there came to an end. The Six Day War represented a sort of messianic moment for the Jews of France as well. Their identification with Israel following the war was expressed in rallies and marches in the streets of Paris, financial support for Israel and the establishment of the “National Coordination Committee”, which united the vast majority of Jewish organizations in France.
In the 1980s the Jewish community in France was a hotbed of intellectual ferment, that included youngsters considered assimilated as well. Jewish radio stations were launched, departments of Jewish studies at universities received funding and resources, and research and publications on Jewish topics flourished. Among the celebrated Jews of France one may find intellectual Bernard Henri Levi, filmmaker Claude Lelouche, philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, thinker Jacques Derida, the famous Rothschild family and more.
But even in the 21st century France is not yet completely rid of anti-Jewish expressions and actions, this time led mostly by Muslim immigrants. These outbreaks, which included rock throwing, vandalism at synagogues and even murderous terror attacks, have led to another wave of aliyah to Israel.


An island of the French Polynesia in the South Pacific.

Association Culturelle des Israelites et Sympathisants de Polynesie (ACISPO)
BP. 4821, Papeete

Tahiti Synagogue
121196 Temple Dorette Assael
Rue Morenhout
Quartier Fariipiti, Papeete
Phone 689 87 78 19 88

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 200

Alexander Salmon (b. Solomon) (1820-1866), an English-born businessman, is thought to be the first Jew to settle in Tahiti. He arrived in Tahiti in 1841 and the next year married the half sister of Queen Pōmare IV of the Kingdom of Tahiti. Salmon adopted local way of life and became a member of the royal court enjoying a high social status in the Tahitian society. Salmon was involved throughout his career in the events that led to the establishment and development of the French Protectorate over Tahiti and the archipelago. The second Jew to settle in Tahiti was Alexandre Feriny Jérusalémy (1830-1914), the son of Rabbi David Paul Jerusalemy (1801-?) of Istanbul who immigrated to Spain during the 1830s, married a Spanish Catholic woman and then settled in Marseille, France. Alexandre Feriny Jérusalémy who was raised as a Catholic, arrived in Tahiti in 1864 as a treasurer of the French government. Émile Raphael Levy (1858-1932), the Paris-born son of Joseph Levy (1828-1884?) and Rosa Julie ne Wolff (1833-1884?) of Alsace, arrived in Tahiti in 1882 in search of black pearl for his brother’s jewellery shop on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris.

Jews who arrived to Tahiti later did not set up a Jewish community. Many of them either assimilated into the local population or converted to Catholicism.

Jews started to settle in larger numbers during the 1960s with the majority of them coming from Algeria and Morocco. The Association Culturelle des Israelites et Sympathisants de Polynesie (ACISPO) was established in 1982. In 1993 the Ahava’v’Ahava synagogue and a cultural center were inaugurated in Papeete followed by a mikveh one year later. Two of the community’s Torahs were provided by the Egyptian Jewish community in Paris and a third by a Los Angeles community.

The community follows the Sephardi rite. A Sunday school provides Jewish education in two clases – one for children under seven years old, and another for bar mitzva-age students.

New Zealand

An island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 7,500 out of 4,800,000 (0.15%).  

New Zealand Jewish Council
Phone: 64 (21) 599 549


The 50th state of the United States; admitted in August 1959.

Jewish beginnings in Hawaii are shrouded in myth. Ebenezer Townsend, Jr., a sailor on the whaling ship Neptune, wrote in the ship's log on Aug. 19, 1798, that the king came aboard ship and brought "a Jew cook with him".This may or may not be true, but it is the first mention of Jews in connection with Hawaii.

A Torah scroll and yad (pointer) owned by the royal family of Hawaii show a connection between it and the early Jewish community. How the scroll and yad came into the possession of King David Kalakaua is not clear. The daily pacific commercial advertiser on Dec. 24, 1888, states that Queen Liliuokalani, Kalakaua's successor, had the scroll draped around the inside of the tent at her majesty's bazaar. The scroll, which has disappeared, was borrowed from the descendants of the royal family for use by the Jewish community on holidays as late as 1930. The yad is now in the possession of the only synagogue in the state, temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation.

It is believed that Jewish traders from England and Germany first went to Hawaii in the 1840s. A few American Jews went from California at the end of the 19th century, but there was no organized Jewish community until the founding of the "Hebrew Benevolent Society" in 1901. The same year marked the consecration of a Jewish cemetery at Pearl City junction.

In 1922 the "National Jewish Welfare Board" (JWB) established the "Aloha Center for Jewish Military Personnel". In 1938 the Honolulu Jewish community was established. Temple Emanuel was organized in 1951. The temple has a membership of 175 families. The temple had membership of 300 families in the early 21st century.

In 1971 congregation Sof Ma'arav, a Conservative synagogue, was founded. In 1975 the Aloha Jewish chapel, a synagogue for military and ex-military, was built at Pearl Harbor. Chabad of Hawaii was established in 1990 and maintained regular services and a small presence. During the 1990s Jewish synagogues were established on Maui, the island of Hawaii and Kauai.

The total Jewish population is given as 1,000, but an article in the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" of Jan. 25, 1967, estimates that the state may have as many as 4,000 Jews on both Oahu and the other islands, and that most of these Jews are unaffiliated with any respect of Jewish life. The population is both youthful and largely transient. Most of the Jews have arrived since World War II; some were stationed there during the war, and after the war returned with their families. A few have been there for 40 years or more. Very few Jews are in business; the majority is in the professions - medicine, law, university teaching, government services, both federal and state, etc. A men's club and sisterhood are affiliated with the temple. A "B'nai B'rith" lodge and a Hadassah chapter have been organized. Temple services are held regularly. There is no real feeling of community as it is known in cities on the mainland of the United States; Jews live everywhere, are active in all aspects of Hawaiian life, and feel very much at ease in Hawaii's multiracial society. A publication of the Jewish federation of Hawaii, “Jewish news”, is being published there for the last 13 years.

In 1997 there were 7,000 Jews living in Hawaii.

The total Jewish population probably numbered about 10,000 in 2005, with the majority in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. This is out of a state population of 1,236,100. Because of the large number of unaffiliated Jews, this number is only an approximation. As of 2005, three of the last four state attorneys-general of the state were Jewish. The governor, Linda Lingle, was also Jewish. She was a member of all three congregations. In 2004 a Hillel chapter was established at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

Religious services were held regularly by all three congregations. There were no specific Jewish neighborhoods; Jews lived everywhere and were active in all aspects of Hawaiian life, feeling very much at ease in Hawaii's multicultural society.